The Saab Aero X concept harnesses the power of Saab’s aviation and Scandinavian roots to make a unique statement in performance car design. Conceived as a study to explore future design directions, its innovative features preview the development of an enhanced design language that will inspire future Saab products.
As you would expect from Saab, this dynamic two-seater sports coupé breaks with automotive design convention both outside and inside.
First, there are no doors…or windscreen pillars. That’s because the Saab Aero X adopts a cockpit canopy, just as you would see on a Saab jet aircraft. It offers the Aero X pilot full 180 degree vision, and also facilitates entry and exit from its low-slung cabin.
Thrust for the all-wheel drive Saab Aero X also comes from a powerplant with a difference. The 400 bhp, twin-turbo, BioPower V6 engine is fuelled entirely by bioethanol, a sustainable energy source that is kinder to the environment by cutting fossil CO2 emissions. The ‘green power’ of this advanced engine gives new meaning to the phrase ‘performance with responsibility’.
Inside, the Saab Aero X’s cockpit also adds a new dimension to clean Scandinavian interior design by completely eliminating conventional dials and buttons. Instead, Saab has applied techniques derived from Swedish glass and precision instrument making, displaying data on glass-like acrylic ‘clear zones’ in graphic 3-D images.
All exterior and interior lighting is by LED (light-emitting diode), which has given the design team new freedoms to exploit the compact packaging benefits of a technology that will be featured increasingly in future Saab products.
With weight-saving carbon fibre bodywork, a lightweight powertrain, electronically-controlled suspension and all-wheel drive, the Saab Aero X is an exciting driver’s car that promises a level of performance to match its looks. Computer simulations anticipate zero to 62 mph in just 4.9 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).
Despite being so tightly driver focused, the Aero X still offers surprising practicality, again, a quality you would expect to find in all Saab designs. The dramatically sculpted tail conceals a useful twin storage facility, with a conventional hatch opening and sliding drawer underneath.
"This study shows how the strength of the Saab brand heritage can inspire bold, innovative design," says Bryan Nesbitt, Executive Director, GM Design Europe. "As we move forward with new Saab product, we will remain focused on carefully cultivating this brand equity in the context of Scandinavian design values."
"This concept shows the exciting possibilities that are open to us as we evolve a more progressive design language for the Saab brand," says Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile’s Managing Director. "Our designers, engineers and marketers in Sweden are ideally placed to nurture and communicate the unique DNA of the Saab brand. Their work will ensure that future product proposals express core qualities, such as progressive design, sporty performance and emotional functionality, in a way that is specific to Saab."
The Saab Aero X is the latest in a series of concepts from Saab, each accentuating different brand qualities. These include the ‘four-dimensional’ 9X (IAA Frankfurt 2001), the 9-3X Cross-over Coupé (Detroit 2002) and the 9-3 Sport Hatch (IAA Frankfurt 2003).